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Prevention and youth crime

Prevention and youth crime: Is early intervention working?

Maggie Blyth
Enver Solomon
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  • Book Info
    Prevention and youth crime
    Book Description:

    The 2008 UK government Youth Crime Action Plan emphasises prevention and early intervention in different aspects of work with young people who offend or are considered to be 'at risk' of offending. Much of this approach includes targeted work with families and work to reduce the numbers of young people entering the youth justice system. This report takes a critical look at early intervention policies. Through contributions from leading experts on youth work and criminal justice it considers the development of integrated and targeted youth support services and the implications for practice of early intervention policies; analyses the causes of serious violent crime through consideration of issues that address gangs and guns; provides an evaluation of the government's early intervention strategy through the examination of its Sure Start programme and other family initiatives; identifies the psychobiological effects of violence on children and links them to problem behaviour; considers the impacts of family intervention projects and parenting work and compares approaches to early intervention across different jurisdictions and examines the lessons for practice in England and Wales.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-264-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
    (pp. iv-iv)
    Maggie Atkinson

    The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) is the leadership organisation for children and young people’s services. Members are charged with ensuring localities’ cooperation to achieve the Every Child Matters outcomes. This ‘duty to cooperate’ covers statutory agencies: health, police, probation, services for young offenders, Learning and Skills Councils and local authorities. We expect that by 2009 it will include schools and colleges. ADCS works with government departments, from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills to the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and Cabinet Office, to influence policy.


  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Enver Solomon and Maggie Blyth

    Prevention rather than cure is the obvious, common-sense approach to dealing with any problem and it is unsurprising that criminal justice policy has been driven by such an ideal. Shortly after entering government in 1997, New Labour embarked on what was seen by many commentators as a more holistic preventative model than its predecessor Conservative government had utilised, with the establishment of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships. The distinguished criminologist, David Garland, described it as a ‘preventive turn’, reflecting an ‘epistemological break’ with the past (Garland, 2000). Prevention strategies quickly became embedded in the work of Community Safety Plans within...

  3. 1 Integrated or targeted youth support services: an essay on ‘prevention’
    (pp. 9-20)
    Howard Williamson

    There is a lot of mischief within the debate on the respective merits and effectiveness of ‘universal’ versus ‘targeted’ services – of any kind. This is, of course, not a new debate; it has been around since the beginning of state-provided welfare services. Two burning issues have always informed that debate: one is concerned with the best use of scarce resources, the other with reaching the ‘target’ group. The two are intertwined: too much prescription and expectation about ‘measuring’ how effectively resources have been used is likely to produce what is sometimes described as ‘perverse behaviour’, in that providers will...

  4. 2 Intervening in gang-affected neighbourhoods
    (pp. 21-40)
    John Pitts

    Violent youth gangs are almost invariably located in economically distressed urban neighbourhoods. Innumerable US studies and recent experience in Europe and the UK mainland indicate that poor housing, material poverty and the absence of primary sector employment contribute significantly to the presence of violent youth gangs (Hagedorn, 1998; Sassen, 2007; Pitts, 2008). This suggests that neighbourhood-level interventions that endeavour to address both the problems afflicting these neighbourhoods and their broader socioeconomic and cultural determinants might serve to stem the flow of young people becoming involved in gang violence as victims and as perpetrators.

    From 1979, the post-war tendency towards a...

  5. 3 Family intervention projects and the efficacy of parenting interventions
    (pp. 41-52)
    Judy Nixon and Sadie Parr

    Over recent years it has been apparent that New Labour’s anti-social behaviour agenda has changed in focus and emphasis, with increasing attention being paid to control measures involving ‘whole family’ approaches and parenting interventions. Family intervention projects (FIPs), first pioneered by the Dundee Families Project in the mid-1990s and subsequently developed by a small number of English local authorities in 2003-04, now have a central role in the government agenda to foster a ‘new approach to the most challenging families’ (Home Office, 2006a; Cabinet Office, 2008). In 2006, the establishment of a network of 50 FIPs formed a core part...

  6. 4 Early intervention and prevention: lessons from the Sure Start programme
    (pp. 53-68)
    Karen Clarke

    The concept of social exclusion has been central to New Labour’s social policy since its election in 1997. Shortly after its election success, the government announced the setting up of the Social Exclusion Unit, located in the Cabinet Office, working with the Number 10 Policy Unit and reporting to the Prime Minister (Levitas, 2005, p 147). The unit was staffed by co-opted members from the civil service, the police, the voluntary sector and business, and involved government ministers from across a range of government departments, reflecting the way in which social exclusion was understood as involving multiple causes and resulting...

  7. 5 Attachment research and the origins of violence: a story of damaged brains and damaged minds
    (pp. 69-88)
    Felicity de Zulueta

    There is little doubt that we belong to a species that has made the most amazing technological advances over the last few centuries: we can fly to the moon, we can communicate instantly across the globe, we can map our genome, and advances in medicine and sanitation mean that many of us live longer and healthier lives than our ancestors. And yet, despite such extraordinary skills and scientific advances, when it comes to understanding human behaviour, and especially violent behaviour, we seem to be groping in the dark.

    The UK government is currently faced with a spate of knife violence...

  8. 6 Early intervention in the youth justice sphere: a knowledge-based critique
    (pp. 89-104)
    Barry Goldson

    In many respects, modes of intervention that ostensibly aim to prevent or ameliorate ‘risk’ play an increasingly significant role in shaping, defining and legitimising modern forms of child and youth governance. The multiple and fluid meanings routinely attached to the concept of ‘risk’, however, are not always clear. Some children and young people are conceived as being particularlysusceptible to ‘risk’, implying constructions of vulnerability and invoking the imperatives of protection and safeguarding (as in modern child welfare discourse; see, for example, DCSF, 2007). Conversely, different constituencies of the young are deemed to comprise a primarysource of ‘risk’, implying...

  9. 7 European perspectives on prevention
    (pp. 105-114)
    Rob Allen

    International norms have increasingly emphasised the importance of seeking to prevent young people’s involvement in delinquency rather than simply addressing such behaviour after it happens. The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated that ‘a juvenile justice policy without a set of measures aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency suffers serious shortcomings’ (UNCRC, 2007, p 7). The UN Guidelines for the prevention of juvenile delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines) stress that ‘prevention requires efforts on the part of the entire society to ensure the harmonious development of adolescents ... from early childhood’ (UN, 1990, principle 2) and...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 115-120)
    Maggie Blyth and Enver Solomon

    The contributions in this volume raise important policy questions in relation to early intervention strategies and prevention work with children, young people and their families. In terms of current government policy, it is clear that early intervention has become firmly embedded under New Labour’s administration as the overarching strategy to address both social exclusion and offending behaviour among children, young people and their families. While there is no blueprint or absolute definition of early intervention at the national level, there are a number of assumptions underpinning the approach that we set out in the Introduction to this volume. These are...